Five infamous sporting assaults

As David Nalbandian joins a growing list of sporting villains, Sohail Malik takes a look back at previous offenders.

    Five infamous sporting assaults
    Do not anger this man: Argentina's David Nalbandian reacts impetuously after missing a shot on game point at the Queen's final in London on Sunday [GETTY]

    David Nalbandian grabbed headlines on Sunday for injuring a line judge in an incident that ended his Queen’s Club tennis final against Marin Cilic.

    The match umpire disqualified the Argentine after he kicked the small barrier surrounding the line judge in anger – with a piece of the barrier coming free and injuring the line judge.

    The outburst resulted in his opponent Marin Cilic being awarded the title and Nalbandian losing $57,350 worth of prize money – on top of an ATP fine exceeding $12,500. Things could get worse for the 30-year old as the police are investigating the incident following a complaint.

    But the Argentine’s misdemeanour is not the first of its kind in the sporting world. Al Jazeera looks at five of the most infamous cases of athletes unleashing rage on referees, match officials, and even fans.

    1. Boxer Khoren Gevor attacks referee

    In April 2011, referee Manfred Kuechler disqualified Armenian Boxer Koren Gevor to end his WBO super-middleweight title challenge against German Robert Stieglitz.

    Kuechler ruled Gevor had intentionally head-butted Stieglitz, opening a gash above his right eye. Little did he know the price he would pay for ending Gevor’s title dreams. Clearly frustrated, the southpaw tracked Kuechler down after the match to unleash a barrage of punches in the ring – much to excitement of the Magdeburg crowd. It was not just his opponent he lashed out at with several people from Stieglitz’s corner and the referee being attacked.

    Gevor personally apologised to Kuechler but was handed a six-month suspension and a fine over $6,000 by the German Boxing Federation (BDB). Ironically he could have been punished further had it not been for Kuechler – who asked the BDB to not take serious action.

    2. Paulo di Canio pushes referee after seeing red

    The current boss of English league One side Swindon Town was never far from controversy during his playing days. His most scandalous moment came in September 1998 while playing in the English Premier League for Sheffield Wednesday.

    Having been red carded, the Italian sent referee Paul Alcock to the ground with a push that earned him an 11-game ban and $16,700 fine. Months after the incident, Di Canio told the Italian press that he apologised to the now 58-year-old, but Alcock maintains that he never received a ‘proper’ apology.

    3. Inzamam-ul-Haq collides with a mouthy fan

    While battling bitter rivals India during the 1997 Sahara Cup in Toronto, the Pakistani batsman targeted a bout of fury at Indian cricket fan Shiv Kumar Thind.

    Thind, armed with a megaphone, spent much of the match taunting Inzamam and reportedly called him a “mota aaloo” – which is Hindi for fat potato. While fielding on the boundary the usually gentle giant snapped and sprung into the crowd. Helped by Pakistan’s twelfth man, who brought him a bat, Inzamam launched an attack on Thind but was restrained by fans and security staff.

    The police eventually intervened, but the hefty Pakistani still tried to go back for more.

    Eventually both Inzamam and Thind were arrested, with the player released on bail. Both subsequently dropped charges against each other, but Inzamam was banned for two one day internationals.

    4. Tim Henman strikes ball girl

    British doubles duo Tim Henman and Jeremy Bates became the first players to be disqualified in the Open era following an incident at Wimbledon in 1995.

    The former world number four reacted angrily to netting a volley by striking a ball with venom.

    Unfortunately for him the ball hit a ball girl on the ear – prompting match officials to rule that he had committed a code violation. Henman later apologised for the incident and famously gave the ball girl a kiss.

    5. Eric Cantona’s Kung-Fu Kick

    Possibly the most famous incident of player-on-fan rage is Eric Cantona’s attack at Selhurst Park in 1995.

    After receiving a red card while playing for Manchester United against Crystal Palace, Cantona launched a wild kick at a fan. He claims fan Matthew Simmons had taunted him with racial slurs and even threw a missile at him as he left the field.

    Nonetheless while Simmons was later fined $780 for the use of threatening language, Cantona received a $31,300 fine and was benched by his team for 9 months.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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